Archive for August, 2017

Rewriting the narrative

When a child experiences trauma (abuse, neglect, extreme and destabilizing life event), their narrative about the world is altered – sometimes so significantly that it is never set right again. At the most base level, it’s TRUST that is altered. The belief that the world, and those in it, can be kind, safe, and compassionate. That I can be understood, be vulnerable creatively/emotionally/physically. So often this core sense of trust in the world is replaced by suspicion, fear, and the need to protect. This becomes the post-trauma narrative and what suffers is relationship/friendship, the ability to accept mentorship and guidance, the trust that what one is telling me is genuine and for my best interest, the ability to let go/be vulnerable and try new, unpracticed, and unpredictable things. What’s lost is the ability to bounce back from hardship and conflict and tension – normal aspects of life that come with the territory of building new relationships and taking on new and difficult challenges (like going to school, starting a new job, entering into a relationship, living with another person, etc).
As caregivers, practitioners and institutions of learning, we are helping to rewrite the child’s life narrative. We’re helping the child to trust once more in the world and in their ability to be vulnerable in the world, which ultimately is what leads to growth and discovery. We’re doing this slowly, deliberately, and at the child’s pace (following their lead/interests, taking steps back when the narrative moves too close to past events that were too much to bare, and then recalculating with the child and continuing to push forward a narrative built on trust, reliability, safety, and a willingness to be vulnerable).

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